Why do we create memorials? I think we do so as a promise to ourselves and to those who the memorial honors – a promise that we shall not forget. Because there is no magic in a memorial itself, however beautiful and thoughtful it may be, it is only a marker of the promise. It is the promise that matters.
The 9/11 Memorial is beautiful and thoughtful. It marks our promise to remember the lives lost, the futures forever changed, and the heroes who emerged on September 11, 2001. 12 years later, the promise still seems fresh to me.
But I wonder if others still hold tight to the promise. Time has a way of pushing horrific events into history books and memorials have a way of becoming tourist attractions. I fear that people forget the commitment with which we made the promise at the outset.
We must remember: American lives were taken on American soil by terrorists; our country went into a state of collective mourning; some of our freedoms and privacy were traded off in the name of security; and, a decade of combat was weathered. We must ensure that the generations to come hold on as tightly to the promise as those of us who have the horrific images of that day and the months that followed imprinted on their psyche. We must carry forward the past with the same vigor that we pursue a different future.
George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We know this to be all too true. Remember the horror of September 11, 2001 and the cost this country paid on every level. Remember that vigilance cannot be a short term response, it must be an enduring posture. Remember the promise and keep it with the same vigor with which it was made.
Day one thousand five hundred and twenty-five of the new forty – obla di obla da